Exploring sound

Blindside, created by Aaron Rasmussen and Michael T. Astoflfi, was inspired by one of the creators’ experience with temporary blindness. The protagonist wakes up blind, and must navigate through an apocalyptic world. The game creates a 3D sound environment. You can see an example of gameplay here.  It is an interesting example of how complex sound design can be used to build a spatial environment.

In Escape the Cage, created by Aaron Oldenburg, one player is trapped inside a room, while the other player is placed outside the room listening. The first player can try to use objects to escape, each which has its own particular sound, creating a unique composition that the other player listens to. Interesting in helping to think through how every day objects can generate evocative sounds.

Codename Cyrus takes a different approach to exploiting sound in a game. It is described as “an interactive radio drama….inspired by old time serial radio dramas.”  You can see an example of gameplay here. This particular kind of approach is much more portable and commute-friendly than other types of audio games (Lumb, 2013), using characters’ voices to narrate the story. It makes it clear that even if a character is not visually represented, their voice can still evoke a specific kind of characterization, which we would have to think through carefully for our sex worker characters.

In their article, Audio Games: New Perspectives on Game Audio, Friberg and Gardensfors (2004) offer a useful categorization of sounds that could help us think through the different elements we can exploit in our game to create an immersive soundscape:

1. Avatar sounds refer to the effects of avatar activity, such as footstep sounds, shooting or bumping into objects.

 2.  Object sounds indicate the presence of objects. They can be brief, recurring sounds or long, continuous sounds, depending on the chosen object presentation strategy.

3. Character sounds are sounds generated by non-player characters.

4. Ornamental sounds are sounds that are not necessary for conveying gameplay information, such as ambient music, although they enrich the atmosphere and add to the complexity of the game.

5. Instructions are usually speech recordings providing information about how to solve certain tasks.. (n.p.)

We are also looking to innovative audio-documentaries for inspiration, as well as interactive audio-books and documentaries.

On a slightly different note, I came across two interesting interactive documentaries that use interactivity to contextualize the main character’s stories within larger sociocultural contexts. Geeta’s World  is about a female taxi driver in New Delhi, and Alma is about one woman’s experiences as a member of a gang in Guatemala.  Both projects are similar in structure in that they allow for the audience to navigate between hearing the main protagonist’s personal story, and learning about the story’s social context. This could be useful in thinking through different ways of allowing players to navigate through our game.